Archive for the ‘Trade Policy’ Category


Administration Moves Forward with Plans to Renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), Seeks Comments from the U.S. Public

May 23, 2017

John Andersen, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Western Hemisphere

On May 18, the Administration formally notified Congress of its intent to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). As provided by the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, this notification triggers a 90-day period before negotiations with Canada and Mexico can begin. As part of the 90-day process – and in an effort to hear from you – the Administration has published a Federal Register Notice (FRN) soliciting public comments on the renegotiation. Per the FRN, the Administration seeks comments on general and product-specific negotiating objectives, as well as comments on specific provisions.  Following the comment period, a public hearing will be held at the U.S. International Trade Commission.

The FRN seeks comments on a total of seventeen topics that will help inform the direction, focus, and content of the NAFTA negotiations. These include digital trade, intellectual property rights, regulatory practices, state-owned enterprises, services, customs procedures, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, labor, environment, and small and medium-sized enterprises.  Written comments must be submitted to the U.S. Trade Representative no later than Monday, June 12, 2017. To access the FRN for more detailed information and submission instructions, please click here.

Stakeholder consultation is crucial to ensuring our trade agreements are reflective of what the U.S. economy needs to thrive and grow. This is a great opportunity for your voice to be heard. I hope your organization will take the time to submit input that provides the U.S. government with actionable recommendations that will generate meaningful outcomes for U.S. businesses, workers, consumers, farmers, and ranchers.


Provide Input on the United States Trade Deficit

May 5, 2017

The Trump administration is analyzing the causes of America’s persistent and massive trade deficits. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross is asking for input from American stakeholders on the factors that contribute to the more than $500-billion-annual goods and services trade deficit facing the United States. The comment period is already underway with the deadline for submissions on Wednesday, May 10. The Department of Commerce and the United States Trade Representative will hold a public hearing on Thursday, May 18, at the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington D.C., at 9:30 am.

This hearing and request for comments allows all American stakeholders to provide relevant information on the effects of international trade with the countries with which the United States has significant bilateral trade deficit in goods.

Reducing or eliminating these trade deficits will usher in a new era of prosperity for American companies and workers. If your company or industrial sector is experiencing problems exporting goods or services to China, Mexico, Europe, Japan, India, Korea or any other major foreign market, then we want to hear your story, as well as your ideas on how to fix the trade deficit. We also want to hear from you if your company or sector is being harmed by illegally subsidized or dumped foreign imports.

Comments will be submitted in a report to President Trump. This information will help the administration renegotiate trade deals and more effectively deter and punish trade abuses when they occur. Differential tariffs, non-tariff barriers, dumping, and unfair subsidies have reduced exports, harmed American workers, and shuttered U.S. businesses. The report will include an examination of how the United States’ trade relationships impact job creation and wage growth at home.

Information on submitting comments or requests to appear at the hearing can be found here.




Initiative to Facilitate Data Flows in Asia Scores Big Wins

April 18, 2017

Michelle Sylvester-Jose is an International Trade Specialist at the International Trade Administration

The ability of U.S. businesses to transfer data across borders received a big boost last month as Singapore, Chinese Taipei and the Philippines communicated their plans to join the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Cross-Border Privacy Rules (CBPR) system. The three economies join South Korea, which submitted its Intent to Participate earlier this year. With these new additions, the CBPR system will cover over a half billion Internet users.

Once implemented, companies across all sectors in the United States will be able to benefit from uninterrupted data flows in these markets, enabling them to sell more goods and services and support American jobs. As these economies take the next steps towards participation in the CBPR system, the Department of Commerce will continue its work to encourage additional APEC economies to join, expanding markets in the Asia-Pacific region where the CBPR system will be available for use by U.S. businesses.

Since APEC leaders first endorsed the CBPR system in 2011, Canada, Mexico, the United States, and Japan have joined the system. The APEC CBPR system was developed by the 21 APEC member economies in consultation with industry and civil society to build consumer, business and regulator trust in cross border flows of personal information. The APEC CBPR system requires participating businesses to develop and implement data privacy policies consistent with the APEC Privacy Framework. Participation in the CBPR system is voluntary, but once an organization joins and certifies to the principles, its commitments are legally enforceable. Beyond facilitating data transfers across borders, the CBPR system increases privacy protections to the benefit of consumers and provides companies with a mechanism to demonstrate strong privacy protections and a basis upon which to build a global compliance system.

For more information and updates on the Department of Commerce’s work on the APEC CBPR System, contact Michael Rose ( or Andrew Flavin (


Department of Commerce Releases Report on Miscellaneous Tariff Bill Petitions

April 17, 2017

Morgan Barr, Office of Trade Negotiations and Analysis in ITA’s Industry & Analysis Division

On April 10, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur L. Ross, Jr., released the Department’s report on petitions submitted to temporarily reduce or suspend the tariffs paid on particular imported products. With this report, Commerce completes an important step in the new process outlined by Congress in The American Manufacturing Competitiveness Act (AMCA) of 2016.

When more than 2,500 petitions were submitted to the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) at the end of 2016, Commerce got to work on its review.  Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service were charged with determining whether or not domestic production of the article that is the subject of each petition exists and, if so, whether a domestic producer of the article objects to the petition.  Commerce also reviewed all submitted public comments.  An ITA team also reviewed each petition to identify any possible overlap with antidumping duty (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) orders.

In addition, Commerce worked with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to incorporate its comments concerning any technical changes to the petitions’ article descriptions that are necessary for purposes of customs administration upon importation.

Under the AMCA, the USITC will take the Commerce report into account before making its final recommendation to Congress on whether a requested product should be included in Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) legislation. The USITC will deliver its preliminary report on MTBs to Congress in June.

The Commerce report can be found at

Additional information on the MTB process can be found at



Miscellaneous Tariff Bills Public Comment Period Opens

January 10, 2017

Jeffrey Eversman is an International Economist in ITA’s Office of Trade Negotiations and Analysis

The U.S. International Trade Commission’s (USITC) Public Comment Period for the 2016 Miscellaneous Tariff Bill (MTB) cycle will begin tomorrow, January 11, 2017. The USITC published a Federal Register notice, which can be found on the USITC MTB website, inviting the public to comment on the list of petitions it received during the MTB submission period. The website includes details and specific dates for filing pubshippinglic comments, along with the full list of MTB petitions. The window for submitting public comments to the USITC will close on February 24.

Anyone, including U.S. companies that produce a like or competing product for which a petition has been submitted, may submit a public comment supporting or objecting to the proposed tariff reduction or suspension. The USITC will use these comments and input from the Department of Commerce (Commerce) and other agencies in making a final recommendation to Congress on whether individual MTB petitions should move forward.

Commerce’s involvement in the MTB process is centered on answering two simple questions: does domestic production of the product subject to petition for duty suspension or reduction exist, and, if so, does a domestic producer of the product object to the duty suspension or reduction. Verified instances of domestic production and any subsequent objection from domestic producers will be shared in Commerce’s report to the USITC and to Congress in mid-April.

Commerce will be reviewing all claims of domestic production submitted through the public comments. Companies that prefer to remain anonymous but would still like to note an objection are encouraged to do so to Commerce directly by sending an email to Commerce will not share information on domestic producers who wish to remain anonymous. However, for the purposes of Commerce’s report, all claims of domestic production will still be verified by Commerce staff. Again, the USITC is responsible for making the ultimate determination of whether domestic production of a given product exists and making a recommendation to Congress on each petition.

If you would like to contact the Department of Commerce directly regarding any petition, staff can be reached at the email address More detailed information on MTBs and Commerce’s role in the process may be found at



The North American Clean Energy Partnership Initiative

March 18, 2016

Stephen Sullivan is an International Trade Specialist in the Office of the Western Hemisphere

The United States, Canada, and Mexico have established a global standard for economic integration. Thriving commercial relationships and deeply connected supply chains have led to $1.2 trillion in total two-way goods trade between the United States and its North American partners in 2014.



Increased trade drives job creation and economic growth.   Integrated supply chains and reduced barriers to trade have built a solid foundation upon which North American competitiveness can continue to be enhanced to the benefit our citizens.  As we prepare for new challenges and opportunities in the 21st Century global marketplace, we must effectively leverage this regional economic integration to ensure continued growth and prosperity.

The North American Clean Energy Partnership Initiative (NACEPI) is one such effort.  Clean Energy is one of the most dynamic, fast-changing, and transformative sectors of the global economy.  A global consensus exists:  the world must deal with the threat of climate change, in part through the deployment of clean energy technologies.  The developed and developing world alike is choosing to promote clean energy through policy incentives to create opportunities and drive investment in almost all markets.

Through NACEPI, we will be working to make North America the dominant player in the use and export of clean energy and environmental technology.   This will entail supporting the development of business linkages among clean energy technology companies in the United States, Mexico, and Canada, with a focus on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).  The initiative will connect North American SMEs to multi-national supply chain opportunities and facilitate access to government and multilateral development bank procurement tenders.

The success of SMEs in the global marketplace is essential to our regional prosperity as these businesses are vital drivers of our respective economies.  In the United States, 63 percent of net new private-sector jobs are generated by SMEs and they account for 33 percent of the total value of U.S. exports.

The launch of NACEPI will take place at Centrallia in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, May 25-27, 2016.  This face-to-face business matchmaking event will serve as a foray into connecting North American clean energy companies.

The U.S. Department of Commerce International Trade Administration’s Office of North America is the lead on this Initiative.  For more information please contact:



Building Stronger Commercial Ties with ASEAN

March 2, 2016

Arun Kumar is ITA’s Assistant Secretary for Global Markets and the Director General of the U.S. and Foreign Commercial Service.

A few weeks ago, President Obama hosted Southeast Asia’s leaders just outside of Los Angeles, California. This summit with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) preceded a Bay Area “roadshow” allowing the countries’ economic ministers to witness innovation and entrepreneurship in action. The historic week helped highlight the launch of the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC), which will combine the 10 regional economies into a single market.


Economic Ministers from different Asian countries and their delegations meet with ITA’s Arun Kumar during the ASEAN Economic Minister Roadshow.

For the first time, an American president hosted all 10 ASEAN leaders for a stand-alone summit on U.S. soil. President Obama sought to demonstrate our long-term commitment to Southeast Asia, one of the world’s fastest growing and strategically important regions. U.S.-ASEAN relations are stronger than ever, as reflected in the joint decision to establish a Strategic Partnership in November. U.S. Commerce Secretary Pritzker, U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, and the CEOs from Cisco, IBM, and Microsoft were all on hand with the President to greet ASEAN’s leaders.

The two-day ASEAN economic ministers roadshow kicked off with an outstanding conference in San Francisco organized by the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council with senior officials from government, business, and academia. The conference included several memorable speakers including an opening keynote by Indonesian President Joko Widodo and closing remarks by Tony Fernandes, CEO of Air Asia.

The gathering highlighted the realities and possibilities of the U.S.-ASEAN relationship following the launch of the AEC on December 31, 2015. Why does this economic integration initiative matter for the United States?

The ASEAN region represents 632 million consumers and a collective economy of more than $2.4 trillion. Taken together, it constitutes the world’s seventh largest economy. ASEAN is already our fourth largest trading partner with two-way goods and services trade reaching $254 billion in 2014. That reflects a 55 percent increase since 2009, and most importantly, supports more than 500,000 U.S. jobs.

This young and vibrant market will only continue to grow, as almost 60 percent of the region’s citizens are under 35, and its middle class is likely to double to almost 400 million by 2020. The conference participants acknowledged there is work to do to achieve the AEC’s full potential and even discussed plans to secure further gains over the next 10 years. From the ASEAN region’s perspective, the United States is important because of our vast and comparatively wealthy consumer class, strong rule of law, deep and liquid capital markets, and our robust protection of intellectual property.

At a meeting to assess progress under the U.S. Trade and Investment Framework Arrangement with ASEAN countries, we discussed efforts to further enhance trade and investment ties and promote regional integration. We also discussed the recent announcement of U.S.-ASEAN Connect, a new unified strategic vision for U.S. economic engagement with ASEAN, which will facilitate better access to U.S. information, resources, and insights, and augments the existing, on-the-ground U.S. presence through “Connect Centers” in Jakarta, Singapore, and Bangkok.

The ASEAN’s economic ministers and senior U.S. government officials also met with some of the Bay Area’s leading companies and the San Francisco government to exchange views on how to pursue environmentally sustainable growth and digital innovation – two key areas of U.S.-ASEAN cooperation.

We received technology demonstrations by cutting-edge U.S. innovators such as Autodesk, Silver Spring Networks, and Google, and met with Prospect Silicon Valley, a nonprofit technology incubator in San Jose. Autodesk demonstrated the potential of “generative design” that uses software to enable the creation of optimized designs, which are efficient in energy and material usage. Silver Spring Networks, which sells complex solutions for smart cities and power environments, presented examples of how the Internet of Things is conserving energy and resources. At Google, we saw the game-changing potential of their balloons (“loons”) to extend the Internet to remote areas. They are working to pilot loons in India, Indonesia, and Sri Lanka. These visits provided glimpses of how profoundly “software is eating the world,” to quote Marc Andreessen, co-founder of the leading venture capital firm Andreesen Horowitz.

Overall, it was a great couple of days and really fun to be back in Silicon Valley. The visits provided some powerful examples of American leadership in clean energy, digital infrastructure, and smart cities development, and illuminated the possibilities for greater commercial cooperation between the United States and the critically important ASEAN region.



The U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue

September 18, 2015

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The U.S.-India Strategic and Commercial Dialogue (S&CD) is the signature, annual forum for policy discussions between the United States Government and the Government of India. It will convene for the first time on September 22, 2015.

As an ongoing forum for policy discussions, the S&CD will serve as a key platform to ensure accountability on commitments, take advantage of the current window of opportunity, and realize the full potential of the U.S.-India commercial relationship.

Under Secretary Selig recently traveled to India in advance of the S&CD. Hear his thoughts on the upcoming dialogue.


U.S.-China Relations: Great for TV, but Greater for the U.S. Economy

December 11, 2014

This post contains external links. Please review our external linking policy.

Picture of the capitolFrank Underwood doesn’t understand the purpose of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade (JCCT).

Maybe you know of Frank Underwood, the main character on the show House of Cards, played by Kevin Spacey. If so, you may remember how he conspired with colleagues in the White House and State Department to orchestrate a trade war with China.

How did he do it? Through the JCCT negotiations.

While Mr. Underwood is commonly known in the United States, it’s much less likely that the average American knows what the JCCT is, aside from it being some way for a fictional administration to create tension with a major U.S. international partner.

Though it isn’t a household term, the importance of the JCCT can’t be overlooked. While Mr. Underwood used the JCCT to start a trade war, the reality is that the United States and China use it to support trade peace – resolving bilateral tensions and exploring areas of mutual cooperation.

The United States and China established the JCCT in 1983 as the primary forum for addressing trade and investment issues, and promoting commercial opportunities between the two countries.

The JCCT has since resulted in significant progress on issues U.S. businesses have identified as priority concerns in China, including:

  • protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights;
  • government procurement;
  • standards, testing, and certifications; and
  • issues specific to certain sectors like information technology, energy, and travel and tourism.

Improving American businesses’ ability to compete on a level playing field in China through the JCCT and other bilateral engagements has contributed to growth of U.S. exports and business activity in China’s market, supporting the American economy and job growth. It has also helped drive important reform in China’s economy, supporting innovation and growth there as well.

The next round of high-level JCCT Meetings are in Chicago this month and we’re looking forward to using this opportunity to address bilateral trade concerns and deepen positive economic engagement between our governments and commercial sectors.

Why does JCCT matter to the average U.S. citizen?

  • China is our second largest trading partner. U.S. total exports to China have nearly tripled since 2005, reaching $122 billion in 2013.
  • U.S. goods & services exports to China support nearly 796,000 U.S. jobs.
  • Continued growth in China’s middle class will create even more promising export opportunities for U.S. companies.
  • To continue with Mr. Underwood’s example, China is now the top goods export market for his home state of South Carolina. The state’s goods exports to China reached $4.9 billion in 2013, which is nearly eight times greater than in 2005.

Lastly, not to quibble with the House of Cards writers, the show makes one important error: the Secretary of State was in charge of the JCCT discussions, and provided guidance to the U.S. team of negotiators.

In fact, that team would have been led by the Secretary of Commerce and the U.S. Trade Representative. Secretary Pritzker and Ambassador Froman will lead the U.S. delegation and be joined by U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, Tom Vilsack. The Chinese delegation will be led by Vice Premier Wang Yang.

While we have yet to see those officials portrayed in the show, we look forward to seeing them play prominent roles in upcoming seasons…

More importantly, we look forward to the 25th JCCT this month, and to seeing the continued positive effects these important meetings have on the U.S. and Chinese economies and our commercial relationship.


Beyond the Border: United States and Canada Enhance Their Trade Relationship

July 29, 2014

Isabel Sackner-Bernstein is an intern in the International Trade Administration’s Office of Public Affairs. She is studying Strategic Communication at Elon University.

The United States and Canada share more than just a border, and I’m not talking about the dual citizenship of famous pop star, Justin Bieber. The two countries share common values, deep links among their citizens, and deeply rooted economic ties.

To improve this already strong relationship, President Obama and Primer Minister Harper announced the Beyond the Border initiative (BTB) in 2011. BTB programs, developed by the Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, will create effective solutions to manage the flow of traffic across our shared borders. The BTB initiative has already helped U.S. travelers and businesses by reducing wait times at the border.

These reduced wait times will also support our trade relationship, reducing the time and cost of shipping goods across the border.

One of the programs linked to this initiative is the NEXUS program. It allows pre-screened, low-risk travelers to proceed with little or no delay across the border from Canada or the United States. NEXUS membership has increased by nearly 50 percent since BTB’s announcement in 2011, and NEXUS enrolled its one-millionth member in July 2014.

NEXUS isn’t the only BTB program that is making the U.S.-Canada border crossing easier and more secure. Below are a few of the BTB accomplishments to date:

 So why does the BTB initiative matter to you or your company? Here are some key facts about the U.S.-Canada relationship that help explain the importance of BTB:

The United States and Canada have the largest trading relationship in the world. More than $1 billion in trade cross our shared border each day;

  • Canada is one of the largest sources of foreign direct investment in the U.S. economy and vice versa; and,
  • More than 350,000 people cross our shared border each day for work, school, tourism, and to visit family and friends.

Now imagine all those people and products crossing the border every day. BTB is working to make that journey easier for thousands of people so that trade and travel can flourish in both the United States and Canada.

We look forward to the BTB initiative helping Canada become an even more attractive market for U.S. exporters! If you’re ready to explore Canada as a potential market, contact your nearest Export Assistance Center!